What is Away: The Survival Series?
Away: The Survival Series is an action-adventure game inspired by nature documentaries and developed by Breaking Walls, in which you play as a small sugar glider.
When does Away: The Survival Series launch?
Away: The Survival Series launched in September 2021 for PC and PlayStation. It’s set to come to Xbox at a later date — we’ll be sure to update you here when we learn more.
“Shipping on multiple platforms is always a challenge — and given the small size of our studio, it was definitely a bit tough to pull together,” says Minard. “We’ve been working almost non-stop for the entirety of this past year patching and testing builds, submitting them for approval, and then repeating the cycle — and that hasn’t stopped with game release.” It sounds like a tough process, and Minard says, “To be candid, the constant grind has been pretty hard on us. But we’re dedicated to Away and pushing it to be the best game it can be!”
“A big factor in Away’s design was trying to give players a unique perspective on our world as they play as different animal species, so I guess we’re most excited for Xbox players to discover all our playable animals and their unique abilities,” explains Minard. It sounds as though Xbox players are in for an extra treat, as Minard adds, “in addition, we’re working on a brand-new playable animal for Xbox — we can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks of it.”
What’s it about?
Away: The Survival Series centres on a tiny sugar glider, which sets out into the great unknown to save its family. “The game focuses on a young sugar glider and his mother and sister. After a devastating storm destroys their nest and sweeps their father away, the little family is forced to go on a dangerous journey to find a safe home,” Minard explains. “Initially, our little joey tags along with his mother as she teaches him to hunt and glide — however, after a bearded vulture separates him from his family, he will need to rely on his own abilities to search for them. His quest will take him through several different biomes as he glides, hunts, and fights his way towards his family!”
How does Away: The Survival Series play?
Exploration is fundamental to the Away: The Survival Series experience. “The sugar glider’s story is at the center of our game, so exploring and progressing through the biomes to reach his family forms the main flow of the game,” begins Minard. “One important part of Away is the platforming — with his climbing and gliding abilities, our glider is able to make use of all three dimensions in the game world! Just be sure to avoid water — gliders have many talents, but swimming unfortunately isn’t one. Sugar gliders aren’t apex predators, but combat is also a facet of the game,” Minard continues. “The glider will need to continue eating to keep his health and stamina up, and while there are plants and sap available, you can also choose to hunt down insects or even larger animals like rats and toads. There are a few boss fights as well, where the glider must face off against dangerous predators like snakes and scorpions.” You also have the option to choose a calmer, less intense mode. “Beyond the main sugar glider story, we also have a much more relaxed game mode — Exploration mode,” says Minard. “In this version, players take control of a spore and are able to explore the game world at their own pace, possessing a variety of animal species and discovering various collectible holograms that give more insight into the backstory of this human-less world.” On top of this, there is also a photo mode that “allows you to capture nature shots without waiting in a blind for hours!”
Away: The Survival Series’ nature documentary inspirations are also integral to the game. “We’re huge fans of nature documentaries — in large part because we love nature, but also because of the way they are able to create such a compelling atmosphere,” explains Minard. “In just a couple sentences, nature documentaries are able to get us completely invested in a crab or mantis or wild hamster and immersed in a natural world we’d never known about prior. That was something we aspired to with Away — the ability to pull the player into a natural world right away. The nature documentary framing also served some practical purposes,” Minard continues. “It is a format well-suited to a narrative, and the narrator’s voice provides a way to explain situations to the player. In a game like Away, where our animals don’t speak or read, this is especially helpful!”
Interestingly, you don’t play as a sugar glider alone — a mysterious mechanic allows you to take possession of other creatures, and try out what it is like to be a beetle, a frog, a spider, a scorpion, a praying mantis, a salamander, and more. “It’s true, it’s not exactly the usual nature-documentary content,” begins Minard. “The decision was driven by a combination of factors. From a world-building perspective, we wanted to explore how nature would change and evolve in the tumultuous world that Away takes place in. We ended up creating an in-universe reason for the possession of various animals that fits this theme of extreme evolution in response to an extreme situation.” Minard continues, adding, “From a gameplay perspective, having additional playable animals is a nice addition to the player’s experience. Away was conceptualized as a way to show a unique perspective on the world as a small animal, so multiple playable animals also allows us to showcase a wider variety of these animal perspectives (and some of their unique abilities as well!).”
What’s the world like?
The world seems enormous from the perspective of a sugar glider, but luckily we come armed with a nature documentary-style narrator who details the world around us as we explore it. “We knew from the beginning that we wanted an animal perspective for our game — from there, it was mostly a matter of researching species with unique abilities that could be adapted into fun mechanics,” says Minard. “Funnily enough, we initially settled on a flying squirrel; their small size meant that we could really provide a unique perspective for the player, and their gliding ability was one we hadn’t seen much of in video games. Then our game designer discovered sugar gliders, and that just felt perfect! Away is set against a backdrop of extreme climate change that has changed many natural habitats,” Minard continues. “By making our protagonist a sugar glider, a creature that is native to Australia, New Guinea, and Tasmania, we could subtly hint at some major environmental upheaval while maintaining some really fun mechanics. Plus they’re adorable!”
Any news on the Away: The Survival Series achievements?
We don’t yet have the Away: The Survival Series achievements, although we do have the Away: The Survival Series trophies. “Away has two different gameplay modes – Exploration mode and Story mode,” explains Minard. “We designed our achievements based on one of these two. Story mode achievements are incremental, depending on how much of the story has been completed. Exploration mode achievements are more varied — as this mode is created for relaxation and exploration of the world, these achievements were designed with exploration and discovery in mind, such as encountering special animal species or learning more of the lore of Away via artifacts scattered around the world map.”
It’s Away: The Survival Series, and this made us curious as to where it might go next. “Away was originally conceptualized as a series of short games that each focused on a different animal,” says Minard. “However, this first installment ended up growing a bit more than we expected as we developed it, so our original plan may not end up being the exact future for this series! We have written a narrative spline of where we would like this series to progress, but there is still a lot to be decided — and we’d like to listen to our community and incorporate their ideas of an awesome animal experience into our next game.”
So, what do you think? Will you be gliding your way through Away: The Survival Series when it launches for Xbox? Let us know in the comments!